Sunday, January 16, 2011


as i sift through my stuff and try to make order of it (and gleefully eject the things i don't want to cling to) i have, obviously, been rediscovering various little treasures of mine. these were not deep into the mess. no, those chasms are reserved for more mundane things like paperwork and receipts.

pictured here is 4/5 of my collection of memorial buttons. being a buttonneer has made me uniquely interested in the origins of my 'craft'. it is a little weird to call button-making a craft since it was not designed to be a skilled trade. instead, it is the imagery used on the buttons that required skill to create. making a button is just grunty labour.

these little artifacts represent some of the earliest days of pinbackery. politics and smoking also played their parts in the development of the ubiquitous pinback button but i have always been more drawn to these ghostly images. ever notice how smiling for photos didn't come into vogue until the 20th century was a little more underway? i particularly like that about these images.

i have been working on my own memorial button project off-and-on for years now but it just never seems to work. my standards are high and my vision clear. it is also hard to have a specific vision when it requires a skill set that you don't have. basically, if one of my pals out there has mad photoshop skills and a high threshold for working with nightmare artist-clients (with no money) i want to hear from you. i will hold my breath until the phone rings...without smiling.


Brittany Smith said...

I really like these memorial buttons, and am curious about your project, but, alas, have no photoshop skills.
I do think the older non-smiling photos give off much more of a sense of drama and personality. Like everybody's got a big secret. Thanks for posting.

anabela / fieldguided said...

Oh, nuts! I had no idea that pinback buttons went so far back in history.

sweetie pie press said...

oh yeah, they grew out of campaign buttons (some of which used to be actual coat buttons) dating back to the late 1700's. this book has been on my reading pile for a while and is a wealth of information on the subject of campaign propaganda material. i guess i should probably write a history of the pinback button for the blog at some point, eh? it would be fun to research.